Everything we learned from ‘The Defiant Ones’

Mogul is a phrase becoming more associated to hip hop now than ever before. As the backdrop of the wider music industry transforms into an ever expanding business machine, one show; HBO/Netflix’s ‘The Defiant Ones’ explains exactly how a musician can transcend such a categorised label to quite literally take over the world. First aired in 2017, The Defiant Ones is a four-part American television documentary series directed by Allen Hughes that focuses on the careers of and partnership between Jimmy Iovine and Dr. Dre co-founders of Beats Electronics. Showcasing how the pair had leading roles in a chain of transformative events in contemporary culture, the show particularly shines light upon how the producers such as Iovine became equal stars in their own right. With Iovine being the co-founder of Interscope records and Dr.Dre being well, Dr. Dre, this show goes deeper into the business of hip hop than any show before it. Here’s Everything we learned from Netflix’s ‘The Defiant Ones’.

‘The Chronic’ almost didn’t happen

undoubtedly one of the best rap albums in hip hop history, Dre’s The Chronic almost completely didn’t happen at all. Such is apparently the case with these earth shattering genre bending culture flipping records, nobody wanted to touch Dre’s debut project. Entangled with years of legal hostility and piles of lawsuits following NWA’s ‘Fuck The Police’ anthem, Dre had to fight to not just be taken seriously, but be taken at all. Being experimental and true to word defiant in its early signings, Iovine took the risk and said yes to launching the project through Interscope Records. With additional financing from convicted drug kingpin Michael Harris and the steady hand of Suge Knight,Dre’s 16 track masterpiece came to be and the relationship between Iovine and Dre was successfully formed.

Dr. Dre’s debut 1992 album ‘The Chronic’


Theres no ambition like Hip Hop ambition

Not just a documentary about music and business, The Defiant Ones is a lesson in persistence and self-belief. A phycology lesson and perfect presentation to show The Law of Attraction at work, the resilience shared by these two icons through their stories and life events is both inspiring and motivating in more than just an artistic way.Always seen on his phone throughout the documentary, the story of Iovine calling Nine Inch Nail’s record label to transfer their signing to Interscope every day for a year is almost incomprehensible in its commitment. It’s this ambition, which drove both moguls to the top, landing the largest acquisition in Apple’s historywith their Beats Electronics megadeal in 2014, a selling worth over $3 billion.

Jimmy Iovine, Tim Cook, Dr. Dre, and Eddy Cue signing the Beats Electronics megadeal in 2014.


If Suge Knight didn’t go to the 1995 Source Awards maybe the East coast / West coast feud wouldn’t have snowballed

The Bad Boy vs. Death Row beef is as infamous as it is complicated. With various clashes over the years, one night in particular cemented the fighting fate of both record labels; The 1995 Source Awards. As Snoop details in the documentary, if it wasn’t for Suge taking a very public and very personal dig at Bad Boy and Diddy onstage, tensions may have been saved to the point of Biggie and Pac not meeting the tragic fate that they did. With Medium crediting the night as ‘The day hip hop died’ Suge announced, “Any artist out there that want to be an artist and stay a star, and don’t have to worry about the executive producer trying to be all in the videos, all on the records, dancing, come to Death Row.” Met with uncontrollable boos from the Madison Square Garden crowd, The Defiant Ones tells both the known story of the night, and the unknown giving unparalled insight into the incident.

Sure Knight Vs. Diddy at the 1995 Source Awards in New York.


Would there be no NWA without J.J Fad?

Eazy-E founded Ruthless Records in 1986, and the label’s first hit in 87′ was “Supersonic,” a single by rap duo turned trio, J.J. Fad. The track caused a storm, and the all female group from Rialto, California, were nominated for a Grammy as the later album ‘Supersonic’ became the first record on Ruthless to go gold. Dre explains in the documentary, “The money that we made on the J.J. Fad album helped fund a lot of the albums that came next.” Dee Barnes, a former rapper and host of Fox’s ‘Pump It Up’ Hip Hop show also explains the strategy behind the J.J Fad signing and release. “The interesting thing about J.J. Fad is that Eazy-E wanted something commercial to make radio stations say, oh, Ruthless Records, we’re going to be anticipating the next record that drops, and then the next thing you know, they slipped in that ‘Boyz In Da Hood”.

J.J Fad


The trailer for The Defiant Ones can be watched below:

Watch the full show on Netflix here. 

Watch the full show on Amazon Prime here. 

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